GamesMediaPro reviews ‘Alien Breed:Impact’

TEAM 17’s classic top down shooter gets a spit and polish and comes out fighting!

Alien Breed:Impact returns to our screens looking faster, leaner and meaner in the latest outing for the classic gaming title

Looking like a totally different animal from the original Alien Breed title that was released back in the salad days of 1991, and a vast improvement on the Evolution title in the franchise that was released as an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive in 2009. The newly launched Alien Breed:Impact title see’s the developers, Team 17, doing with AB:Impact exactly what the previous title was named, by that we mean ‘Evolving.’

Gone are the pixellated images and smudged graphics of yesteryear to be replaced by an altogether ‘sleeker’ and far more athletic looking Alien Breed title. If Evolution was meant to take the series in a new direction and herald a new era for the much-loved series of titles, then without a doubt, Alien Breed:Impact has taken the game back to the drawing board and emerged from the re-workings of the development team looking like an Olympic athlete compared to the  ‘fun-runner’ of previous releases.

The storyline for Alien Breed:Impact is much the same as we are used to from the franchise, in that there is a catastrophe aboard your vessel following attack from an alien race bent on your untimely demise and destruction. Your craft, the spacefaring Leopold has suffered a devastating assault by the hordes of creatures that now run rampant all around, through and across your ship, and it is up to you to get your act together and turn the tide of the situation to your favour and claim history over the murderous alien force. Wil you manage to save the ship? Will you save yourself and the crew? Will you become bug food? Let’s strap on a pistol, lock and load our assault rifle and find out shall we? Let’s get this show on the road, soldier!

From the onset of Alien Breed:Impact the similarities with movies such as Alien, Starship Troopers and Pitch Black are all to obvious. But then the same can be said for a multitude of recent gaming titles ranging from Dead Space to AvP and whole A-Z of Sci-Fi Survival/Horror clones that litter the shelves of your local gaming outlets like so much of the ‘shovelware’ these days. But does Alien Breed:Impact also fall into this category of ‘been there, done that’ gaming? In a nutshell, no it doesn’t. AB:Impact if anything harks back to an era of gaming that was what we like to think of as ‘The Golden Years.’

These types of ‘top down’ shooters and third person action titles are seldom produced these days, and when they are it is with a lacklustre attitude often adopted by developers who are in between projects and are using the title just to keep their ‘hand in’ and the company name in the headlines. So it is a joy and a heartwarming sight to see when a developer with the pedigree of Team 17 decides to throw its considerable weight and resources at this game style and manages to produce a title that takes you back to the ‘Golden Years’ of gaming, whilst at the same time putting the Unreal Engine 3 to great use and making Alien Breed:Impact as relevant to todays gaming as any other title launched this year.

The gameplay is the familiar third person style that is adored by fans of the Alien Breed series, and the new settings and locations are fully utilised and taken to task by the developers using the UT 3 engine. The lighting gives off a distinctly claustrophobic atmosphere and the way that the alien hordes constantly burst from the walls and floors in the attempts at ripping you limb from limb leaves you with a genuine feeling of anxiety as you spray and pray you way through the numerous attackers, shredding all in range with a variety of small arms weapons fire as well as a nice collection of handheld explosive devices. The use of the control system is a nice change from the standard fare of other shooters, and the point and fire method of the right stick combined with trigger works well under pressure from the monsters as they seek to shove their taloned limbs into various orifices around your body.

The maps that detail your progress around the looming  broken hull of The Leopold are well detailed and huge in their sprawling magnitude. This can be a little confusing when having to backtrack to previous locations are to find a way through after your progress is blocked by a collapsed part of the ship, as there is no way to tell here you are or where you have been on your mini map in your HUD, however this is a minor issue as it more often than not leads you to discover a previously hidden room or part of the ship that holds a collectible or some valuable ammunition or medikit. The ammunition itself is sparse and you must be frugal to survive. However the pistol does have the ‘infinity’ symbol next to the bullet count and we found that this would adequately see off most of the smaller enemies and so we could save the more valuable, and powerful, ammunition for stronger opponents later in the zone.

Along the way you must also follow the arrows in your HUD to discover your objective locations after you have been given tasks that will see you off on side quests and mini-missions to ‘fix the ship’ and ‘repair the halon system.’ We strongly suggest that you pay attention to all of the information that appears in your heads up display, and that is available to you in your log, as once you set off there is little assistance along the way for you to call on should you become lost or overwhelmed.

There is, however, the excellent opportunity to have a Co-oP partner join you in your mission in the second of the two main challenge modes in the game. This is one of the games highlights and where we had some of our most enjoyable gameplay experiences in the title, even after playing through the solo campaign in its entirety, we enjoyed the Co-oP so much that we are currently playing through the game for the second time with another friend who we have introduced to the game via PSN.

All of the single player attributes of the game are carried over into the Co-oP version of Alien Breed:Impact and in that respect it holds sway over other titles in the genre. Everything that we enjoyed in our solo quest was their for us to take advantage of in the online play. From the upgradeable weapons systems to the extra ammunition are there for players to collect and unlock.

Alien Breed:Impact is one of those rare titles that is available as a digital download via Steam and the Playstation Network, and yet when you play the game you get to wondering why someone has not turned this into a big budget disc based blockbuster? Such is the attraction and draw of the game that we ar still unsure as to why this has not happened, as yet? But we would love to see Team 17 develop Alien Breed into a large-scale production that would leave a lot of its competitors quaking in the low gravity boots.

Everything about Alien Breed:Impact shines with the quality that Team 17 have seen obviously installed into their title. The gameplay is perfect for the situation and setting. The way that you have to creep around the ship to accomplish you objectives as you are stalked and savaged at every twist and turn by the alien hordes is best suited by the top down perspective of the camera. It allows the gamer to have some kind of advantage over the more numerous aliens as you attempt to fulfil your obligations to your injured craft and crew. But it does not give away to many concessions to the player and make it too easy as we have explained by the use of the mini map. Yes, you may know where you are and where you have to go, but it is entirely up to you to work out the quickest and safest route to get there. The finesse of the title is also shown in the way that Team 17 have combined the use of the ‘Intex Points,’  or save points, and the fact that they are also afforded the double use in that they are where players will trade in their credits for ammunition and health packs,  it is also used as the ‘smithy’ where gamers will be able to upgrade their weapons. This is the type of thing that we like here at GamesMediaPro as it makes the most of the tools at the developers disposal to create a faster and more sensible approach to the gameplay as it does away with the clutter offered by other games where you will have to seek out one point to save, another to upgrade weapons and yet another just to purchase ammo or health. All the while you spend more time in the quest for bullets and bandages than you do actually playing the game.

All in all we have thoroughly enjoyed our time aboard the Leopold. The game is as compelling now as it has ever been and yet even though it takes most of us older gamers down memory lane a little bit, it does at no time look dated or out of its depth. If anything Alien Breed:impact looks sharper and better than it ever has at any point of its long and distinguished history.

Graphics: The use of the Unreal Engine 3 has proven to be an inspired move by the developers Team 17 as the game takes on a freshly painted and polished look with a fine eye on even the smallest detail right across the ship. Better than ever!   8

Gameplay: Regular readers of the GamesMediaPro review section will know by now that the survival/horror genre is our fave gaming type and Alien Breed:Impact never lets up in the action and never disappoints. Fast and furious and likely to keep you sweating in your seat well into the small hours.   8

RePlay Value: With a cracking solo campaign and the first-rate Co-oP mode to add to the games longevity, we can safely say that you will enjoy playing through Alien Breed:Impact time and time again. A great blend of action and horror that will keep gamers on the edge of their seats for many a day.          7

Presentation: Taking a well-loved and long-established gaming title and making it better than ever was always going to be a tall order for Team 17 but they have manged it with ease. Alien Breed:Impact looks fitter, leaner and better than it has ever doe and with great new gameplay mechanics and a highly polished new look this is one game that has stood the test of time.  8

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